President Joe Biden was the center of attention at the United States Air Force Academy graduation on Thursday, where he thanked the newly–appointed second lieutenants for embracing “service over self” and “a great privilege” of leading in a complex world.
Biden received a warm welcome from the crowd of about 900 cadets, who cheered him on as he spoke. He addressed the graduates about their role of representing the United States in a way that remains true to the constitution and America’s “enduring values”, advocating for removing the “scourge of sexual assault and harassment in the military”.
The president also shared his optimism for Sweden obtaining NATO membership, which has been delayed due to opposition from Turkey, saying “Sweden‘s NATO membership will happen. I promise you.”
Furthermore, Biden encouraged the cadets to be “resilient, creative, and committed” as they tackle global issues, such as rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, China’s increasingly powerful presence, as well as artificial intelligence and climate change.
The finale of the ceremony was an aerial salute from the U.S Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, also known as the Thunderbirds, which flew over Falcon Stadium.
Biden‘s speech was overshadowed, however, by an onstage stumble that occurred after he had handed out diplomas to the graduates. The president used a member of the U.S Secret Service as well as an Air Force officer to get back on his feet, but proceeded to joke about the incident saying “he’s [Biden] fine” and “there was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands”.
Despite the minor miscue, the ceremony was a success, with the audience and newly–graduated second lieutenants showering the commander–in–chief with praise and admiration.
Remember when the media collectively lost their minds over Trump walking slowly down a slippery ramp and claimed he had dementia?… pic.twitter.com/X9SGouWBRE
— Danny De Urbina (@dannydeurbina) June 1, 2023